Brown-nosing Flickr.com

What’s my latest addiction? Flickr.com

How many of you have tried sites like friendster, hotornot, or other “group” websites?

Ok, how many of you have joined sites like usefilm.com for photo critique?

Now, how many of you have spent hours reading over travel blogs, photoblogs, and other weblogs searching for new experiences and perspectives?

Flickr is almost all of them combined. Where some other sites like friendster have failed, I believe this will succeed. We as an online community are constantly looking to connect to like minds. We as photographers are always looking for new inspiration and critiques for our work. We as travelers are permanently on the lookout for new experiences and ways to see other cultures through words and images.

I’ll be honest. A month ago I started hearing about the site, and was thinking, “yeah, yeah another photo hosting site”, signed up for it, and spent a total of 20 minutes browsing around in the last 4 weeks. That all changed this weekend.

Here’s why it’s different. Friendster started with a fascinating idea – connect people based upon the recommendations of others. Search through hundreds of photos of which may or may not be the real person (very often not), and be able to contact those which share common interests. In my opinion it has become a piece of crap. The server is slow, the photos are often not real, and it’s becoming an ego trip of how many friends / testimonials you have. What started out as a great idea has become a failure.

Photo critique sites? I belong to a few – usefilm.com being the one I’m on the most. I enjoy the feedback and critiques that I’ve received. The basic idea is great, but unless you pay the 25 – $50 a year, you often miss out on the benefits. Usefilm and others generally allow something like 1 upload a day – great if you have the patience. I’ve also noticed that the photos which receive the most attention are not always the best. Any photo showing skin will have 10 times the viewers and comments. Not too helpful for those of us shooting “normal” images.

Weblogs and photoblogs? They’re a wonderful way to connect – and generally much more “real” in their commenting, feedback, and returning visitors. I would much rather have 50 “genuine” visitors than 5000 “surfers”. The only problem is that they’re often hard to find, categorize, and stumble across. There are some wonderful resources out there: photoblogs.org, blogrolling.com, etc.

Flickr has proved itself to be an awesome new contender in all of these areas. They’ve come out swinging, and swinging hard. As a user, you’re able to upload as many photos as you’d like as long as you stay below 10 mb a month – let me tell you that’s plenty! I am MUCH happier with that system than the “one photo a day” or other tiny restrictions. With the cost of storage dropping dramatically – there’s really no reason for that anymore. Let’s talk to Mr. Gates about his 2mb hotmail accounts – what a bunch of shit that was. Luckily they’ve made a mistake on my account and upped mine to 2 gigabytes. Gmail has it right – I have two of their accounts for 1 gb each. Any site that wishes to become a leader in its genre needs to buck up for more space for members. Flickr has that part down pretty well.

The way that you can connect to others with similar interests is also a selling point. If I have “tags” that say “Indonesia, java, and volcanoes” people can quickly find my work, groups related and individual users. I’ve already found it to be a great way to find similar material.

There are groups that can be made by any user – I’ve made two of them myself. Within a group, members can show off their photos and hold discussions similar to a forum.

As the world becomes more populated, less diverse, and more interspersed, people are increasingly searching for ways to express themselves and share with others. Look at the explosion in chatting, blogging, and online photography sites. People are screaming out to the world in masses and trying to be heard.

Photography used to be a fairly small interest group – expensive, time consuming, and difficult to receive feedback on. Only 10 years ago, if I was living in Indonesia think about my options for keeping in touch: the phone, mail, and umm a plane ticket? Now I can write this post, take a photo of what I did today, and upload it within seconds to a site reaching anywhere in the world. I can chat with my dad who otherwise would never call, and receive feedback on photos that otherwise would sit in my desk drawer for eternity. People are becoming photographers – and quite good ones. The quality of photoblogs has sharply risen even in the past year.

Why am I promoting a site like this? Do I have shares in the company? Is my brother the CEO?

I wish.

I simply wish to see a company succeed when they finally “get it’. I’m rarely impressed by sites of this kind, so when it happens, I’ll speak up.

For those of you interested in checking it out:

My photo portfolio on flickr
My “group” about anything Indonesian

You can also create a “badge” that will display randomly changing images on your website – pretty damn cool. Check out my WordPress blog for an example.

Flickr is not perfect. There are still some bugs to be worked out, perhaps that’s why it’s still in “beta” form. I’m not seeing the real benefit or need to shell out the $40 to become a pro member – I think the free account suits me just fine. The google advertising is minutely annoying, and sometimes my photos don’t show up as planned. But what the hell, I’ll give it a whirl – and you know what? It’d be a lot more fun having a bunch of you join as well.

Ok, I’m going to pull my nose out of Flickr’s ass now and get some shut eye.
Sampai jumpa.